This is a 'transit visibility zone.' Aliens living in it might be able to see us.

For centuries, human beings have looked at the night sky, hoping to see aliens.

Now, a group of scientists is trying to find out where aliens would have to be in order to see us.

Researchers from universities in the U.K. and Germany have identified nine planets that are "ideally placed" for their resident astronomers to detect Earth using the same methods Earth stargazers use to detect them, according to a new paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


The astronomers looked for planets on which observers could view Earth's transit across the sun — the period where, from their perspective, our planet moves in front of its home star, causing it to dim slightly.

An illustration of where an extraterrestrial observer would have to be to notice one of the planets in our solar system passing in front of the sun. Image by 2MASS/A. Mellinger/R. Wells.

The study builds on the work of astrophysicist Rene Heller, who proposed the idea that intelligent extraterrestrial life located in these "transit visibility zones" might already know about Earth in a paper published last year in the journal Astrobiology.

"We've expanded on this by including all of the solar system planets and looking at the known and expected exoplanets in these regions," study lead author Robert Wells, a Queen's University Belfast Ph.D. student, says.

The work was made possible by the revival of the Kepler space telescope, which malfunctioned and was nearly left for dead in 2013.

Instead, engineers used sunlight pressure to stabilize the stellar eye later that year. It has since discovered more than 500 exoplanets — joining the more than 2,300 total detected in the telescope's eight-year run.

A digital illustration of a gas giant planet and moon discovered by Kepler. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt via Getty Images.

The next challenge? Finding where ET might actually be listening for that call.

None of the planets identified in the paper have the conditions to support life. The researchers expect to discover more worlds in the prime Earth-viewing zone in the coming months.

"Our hope is to find some planets which are potentially habitable and can see transits of Earth, which I think will be the best targets for SETI," Wells says.

Here's hoping when do we track our galactic neighbors down, they're not the kind we need Will Smith to deal with.

(Thankfully, we have Will Smith — just in case.)

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.